Burnout survey reveals 9 ways companies can save their workforce’s health

DALLAS — In light of World Mental Health Day, the American Heart Association unveiled survey results that could empower employers to cut burnout rates and bolster workforce well-being by as much as 40 percent. Burnout, as described by the World Health Organization, arises from prolonged, unaddressed work stress. Symptoms include overpowering exhaustion, negativity towards one’s job, and a dip in work performance.

Chronic exposure to stress can increase your lifetime risk of conditions like heart disease and stroke and is also linked to anxiety disorders and major depression. With burnout rates continuing to rise, we must acknowledge that this is not a passing problem, but a serious and ongoing workforce mental health challenge,” says Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association, in a media release. “This survey gives a reassuring glance at how employers can make a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of their workforce with a few intentional changes.”

Burnout doesn’t merely affect the mental well-being of employees. It bears a financial strain too. Workplace stress can potentially contribute to a staggering $190 billion in annual healthcare expenses and is associated with increased absenteeism and job dissatisfaction. A 2019 study unveiled that businesses prioritizing employee health and safety saw their stock prices soar by 115 percent over four years, surpassing both the S&P 500 and companies with subpar internal health support.

office worker bored
(Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

A comprehensive survey, involving 5,055 working adults in the U.S., was carried out by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association. The focus was to grasp the impact of nine evidence-based best practices designed to thwart burnout and foster employee mental health. Despite indicators of positive workforce well-being, a whopping 82 percent of participants claimed to experience burnout occasionally, with certain demographics, like parents, frontline workers, women, Generation Z, millennials, and LGBTQIA+ workers, feeling the strain more frequently.

What’s the solution for employers?

The survey identified nine beneficial policies:

  1. Align employee skillsets with job tasks.
  2. Define clear job roles and responsibilities.
  3. Regularly review workloads.
  4. Collaboratively design job roles.
  5. Offer a path for employee skill development.
  6. Ensure employees are equipped to maintain a healthy life.
  7. Emphasize overall employee well-being.
  8. Limit work-related tech use post-work hours.
  9. Advocate for employee support groups.

In organizations where these strategies were absent, merely 51 percent of the workforce felt positive about their well-being. In stark contrast, companies that implemented all nine witnessed a 91-percent satisfaction rate. Intriguingly, even adopting just one policy led to increased job satisfaction, improved feelings about roles, and a heightened sense of managerial support.

The American Heart Association provides a Workforce Well-being Scorecard™ to assist employers in evaluating their health and well-being culture. Those interested can view the complete survey report and fill out the Scorecard at heart.org/workforce.

Survey methodology

Conducted between April 13 and May 10, 2023, the online survey engaged 5,055 full-time or part-time employed U.S. adults. Data weighting ensured that results accurately represented the population, accounting for various factors like race/ethnicity, education, and household size.

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